Our School 


The Aboriginal people who lived in what we now know as the City of Hobsons Bay are known as the Yalukit-willam, a name meaning ‘river camp’ or ‘river dwellers’. The Yalukit-willam are associated with the coastal land at the head of Port Phillip Bay that extends from the Werribee River, across to Williamstown, Port Melbourne, St. Kilda, and Prahran. The language of the Melbourne people, includes three dialects, Daung wurrung, Woi wurrung, and Boon wurrung, and is part of a group of related languages collectively known as the Kulin group of languages, or the Kulin Nation. The three Melbourne dialects are referred to as the East Kulin area The Yalukit-willam name for Williamstown is recorded as Kert.boor.uc and Koort-boork-boork, which has been translated as ‘a clump of she-oak trees which stood on the site’.

The School.

St Mary’s Parish Primary School is located in the bayside western suburb of Williamstown and has been educating local children since May 1842. Established initially by a concerted effort of lay people determined to provide Catholic and values based education for the local working class children, the school commenced its proud history with a total of 14 students that soon saw the appointment of a priest, a direct parish community and from 1900, the Sisters of St. Joseph who were fundamentally committed to educational longevity influenced by the Charism of Mary Mackillop, in Williamstown. St Mary’s proudly continues today, with the strong link to its origins- drive, determination, commitment and financial support of education in a Catholic suburban context. The school highly values the historical significance of the physical establishment dating back to the construction of the first school building in 1925 while ensuring that contemporary learning is happening in a Catholic environment.  

Our School Vision.

St Mary’s School Williamstown is a Catholic School with a proud history.

We strive to live the Gospel and promote excellence through an engaging curriculum and innovative educational opportunities, so as to nurture a love of learning and assist all members on their journey through life to make a difference in our world.


We pride ourselves on our rich and significant history.

St Mary's School, Williamstown, is the oldest continuously operating school in Victoria. School commenced at St Mary's in May 1842 in a timber chapel. Mr. John Wilson was the first teacher/principal. The earliest available record of enrolment figures is six boys & eight girls in July 1844.

For the first time in the school's history, a religious community took charge of the school when the Sisters of the Faithful Companions of Jesus arrived on 1 September 1897. Blessed Mary MacKillop was known to the parish and school community in these later years of the 19th Century and in 1900, the task of continuing the education of Catholic children of Williamstown was taken on by the Sisters of St Joseph.

Since the school opened in 1842 there have been three school buildings erected. The present building was officially blessed and opened on 19 January 1926. A major refurbishment of the school was completed in 1994, with a further extension of the administration building in 2007. An extension to the East Wing, with the addition of three classrooms was completed in 2010 as part of the Australian Government's Building the Education Revolution.

Sports Teams Names and Our History with the Sister's History

The Sisters of St Joseph taught in our school for 99 years until 1999 and although not teaching in the school today, they are still living in our Parish community and attend school celebrations. Their founding Sister is St Mary of the Cross MacKillop. St Mary of the Cross is Australia’s first Saint.

The Charism of St Mary of the Cross influences all we do and the values, such as care and compassion and respect, which were so important to St Mary of the Cross are explored throughout all year levels.

The children learn about St Mary of the Cross in their Religious Education and include her in their prayers when they say, “St Mary of the Cross pray for us,” at the conclusion of each prayer.

The school celebrates the feast day of St Mary of the Cross on August 8th with a whole school Mass .

To celebrate the canonisation of St Mary of the Cross in 2010, our school Sport Colour House Teams were renamed with particular significance to Mary MacKillop, Bayview (Blue), Penola (Yellow), Winella (Red) and Portland (Green).

Our Year 6 Leadership Program includes a Charism Team, the members of this group meet fortnightly and help to plan and lead whole school Liturgies and carry out simple actions in our school in response to St Mary of the Cross’ influence.

Sports Teams Names and their History

Penola (Gold)

Penola is a town in South Australia. It is central to the life of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop. In 1860, she worked as a governess for her Aunt and Uncle. In 1866, Saint Mary MacKillop started the first free Catholic school in Australia with Father Julian Tenison Woods. Penola is also the place where Saint Mary MacKillop established her religious order, the Sisters of St Joseph.  

Portland (Green)

Portland is a town in Victoria. It is the place where Saint Mary MacKillop had her first formal teaching position in 1863. Prior to this, she worked as a governess, teaching the children  of her relatives. Saint Mary MacKillop left Portland in 1866 to start her first school.

Bay View (Blue)

Bay View is the house Saint Mary MacKillop rented whilst living in Portland. The building was large enough to house her whole family and start a boarding school. To earn extra income, Saint Mary MacKillop established the Bay View House Seminary for Young Ladies. It provided education and accommodation for young ladies in the country.

Winella (Red)

Winella is a cottage that Saint Mary MacKillop rented when she returned to Penola in 1866. She used Winella cottage as a school for a short period of time before moving the school into a stable. Winella cottage was the first convent for the Sisters of Saint Joseph.

A History of Williamstown.

A party explored Point Gellibrand in 1803. Later in 1835 John Batman explored the area up to the mouth of the Yarra River, the same year the first settlers arrived with 1000 cows and sheep. In 1837, Governor Bourke named the point Williamstown after King William IV. By 1839 the town had large shipping facilities including a pier and government stores all built by convict labor.

By 1841 there were three hotels in the town and population was about 300 people, and in 1842, the St Mary's School commenced before a Parish was established.